Is it possible to make an impulse choice and it led to a life changing career change? That’s part of the premise behind ABC Family’s “Bunheads,” which had one woman make a decision that ended up changing her life for the better. The results may be a little awkward and implausible sometimes, but the cast makes it worth the viewing effort each week.
“Bunheads” followed former Vegas Showgirl Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster) as she impulsively married a man and moved to his hometown in Paradise, California. After his sudden death, Michelle and her new mother-in-law Fanny Flowers (Kelly Bishop) decided to run her dance studio together to better serve their students, or Bunheads as they were called affectionately. Michelle has formed a strong bond with four of her students, especially with the rebellious Sasha Torres (Julia Goldani Telles) who was forced to live on her own after her parents literally went their separate ways. Sasha has turned to Michelle for advice about living on her own and for just about anything her friends can’t help her with because they had their own problems to deal with. Boo Jordan (Kaitlyn Jenkins) was learning how to maintain her first serious relationship and keep her insecurities in reasonable control, which wasn’t always successful. Melanie Segal (Emma Dumont) and Ginny Thompson (Bailey Buntain) were both learning to find their own identities that sometimes meant doing things separately. Can Michelle help navigate the girls through the complications of being teenagers and prepared them for a life outside of Paradise?
In terms of questions, the show has raised a few through the course of the season, but it’s still too early to say what the future holds for the show once the girls graduate high school. Will the show follow them to college or will another group of Bunheads take their place? Let’s hope that it’s not the latter option because the four leading Bunheads would be a very tough act to replace. Jenkins, Buntain, Telles and Dumont had a genuinely comfortable rapport that made viewers of any age relate to their struggles no matter how far fetched they appeared to be. Out of the four, Telles stood out the most in these recent episodes because Sasha was forced to grow up rather quickly as her parents decided to split up and ended up leaving her behind. Many viewers could relate to her dilemma of learning how to live on a budget and adjust to the idea of living alone. Although Telles’ Sasha was a little too abrasive in the beginning, she has soften up a little bit and has a strong connection with Foster’s Michelle that should be focused on in future episodes for both dramatic and comedic purposes. Jenkins’ Boo had some storyline potential as well, but her character’s relationship with Carl sometimes bordered on overly silly, especially with last week’s Tommy Lee Jones subplot. Many viewers would love to have that scene erased from their memories. Hopefully, future episodes will help to ground Jenkins’ relationship story back to reality for the better. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
As for breakout stars, Foster and Telles led the pack as two very different women who seemed to connect despite the age gap between them. Foster’s Michelle has been fashioned to be a more relatable Lorelai Gilmore, even though Michelle’s chatty nature bordered on irritating at times. She brought a quirky charm and vulnerability to the character that made viewers root for her, even when she made some crazy mistakes like when she accidentally maced her students last season. Foster also had some decent chemistry with Nathaniel Parsons’ Godot that hasn’t been explored beyond mere flirting. Future episodes should examine where their relationship should go and test the idea of making Parsons a more permanent member of the cast. Telles’ Sasha seemed to be the driving force of some of the story for the Bunheads part of the show as well. She made Sasha to be the de facto leader of the group who tried to lead her friends by reasonable example. Unfortunately, the added emphasis on Telles and Jenkins left Dumont and Buntain little to do besides dance around their feelings for two unattainable guys. Another casualty of this season was that Bishop’s Fanny appeared to be largely absent from some recent episodes, which should be fixed when the inevitable next season arrives.
“Bunheads” airs its winter finale on February 25th at 9:00 PM on ABC Family. It hasn’t been announced yet when new episodes are slated to air.
Verdict: Foster shines as the quirky dance instructor who had a rapport with her students. It’s just the supporting cast that needs to be fleshed out a little more than being mere stereotypes.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)